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					Challenging chemistry
The challenges of global change
Chemistry for Tomorrow’s World            Chemical sciences and challenges

                                          The chemical sciences are tackling many of the challenges faced by the world’s
                                          inhabitants and their environments. Some of the ways are illustrated in this
                                          video produced by the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA).

“Global change is creating
enormous challenges relating to
energy, food and climate change. It
is both necessary and urgent that
action be taken.
The Royal Society of Chemistry
is committed to meeting these
challenges head on. The RSC has
identified where the chemical
sciences can provide technological
and sustainable solutions, and are
promoting action and awareness in
these areas.”

For more information see                  The film was produced jointly by the EPCA, UNESCO and IUPAC to promote the International   Year of Chemistry 2011. Further information can be found at
The challenges and chemical sciences
Priority Areas                            Chemical sciences and future challenges
The RSC identified priority areas in                                                    Irina Bokova is the Director
which the chemical sciences can                                                         General of UNESCO. Here
support change                                                                          is a short extract from her
   Energy                                                                              video message for the
                                                                                        Opening of the International
   Food                                                                                Year of Chemistry, 2011.
                                                                                        She describes how
   Future cities                                                                       chemistry can contribute to
   Human health                                                                        tackling the challenges we
                                                                                        face today.
   Lifestyle and recreation

   Raw materials and

   Water and air
                                                                  "Chemistry provides the wisdom we need to
Within these, 41 challenges were                                  achieve sustainability, to solve, in other
identified and explained.                                         words, the issues that threaten humanity's
                                                                  continued existence.“
For more information see                           Professor Ryoji Noyori
/roadmap/priorityareas/index.asp                                  2001 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Priority areas
 Energy                                                           Food

 “Creating and securing environmentally sustainable               “Creating and securing a safe, environmentally
 energy supplies, and improving efficiency of power               friendly, diverse and affordable food supply.
 generation, transmission and use.
                                                                  By 2030 the world's population will have increased by
 An adequate and secure supply of energy is essential             1.7 billion to over 8 billion. The growth in population,
 for development but must be achieved with minimum                increasing affluence, climate volatility and limited land
 adverse environmental impact. Society must move                  and water availability mean we will soon be facing a
 from an economy based on fossil fuels to a more                  food crisis.
 sustainable energy mix. This will require scientists             The greatest technological challenge humanity faces
 and engineers to develop sustainable energy                      is to sustainably meet energy and food demands,
 solutions and to find more efficient ways of producing           without permanently damaging the environment. The
 and using existing fuels during the transition.”                 application of chemistry and engineering is a key part
                                                                  of the solution.”
 The challenges
  Energy efficiency                                              The challenges
  Energy conversion and storage                                   Agricultural productivity
  Fossil fuels                                                    Healthy food
  Nuclear energy                                                  Food safety
  Nuclear waste                                                   Process efficiency
  Biopower and biofuels                                           Supply chain waste
  Hydrogen
  Solar energy
  Wind and water

                                             Back to Challenges
Priority areas
 Future cities                                                   Human health

 “Developing and adapting cities to meet the emerging            “Improving and maintaining accessible health,
 needs of citizens.                                              including disease prevention.

 Half of humanity now lives in cities, a figure which is         Thanks to improvement in health care, people are
 expected to increase into the future. As a result, it is a      healthier and live longer today than ever before.
 great challenge to provide adequate resources and               However, the progress in health over recent decades
 services to these urban populations.”                           has been deeply unequal. Considerable and growing
                                                                 health inequalities exist in many parts of the world.
 The challenges                                                  The nature of health problems is also changing.
  Resources                                                     Longer lives and the effect of ageing have increased
  Home energy                                                   the burden of chronic disorders. While urbanisation
   generation                                                    and globalisation have
  Home energy use                                               Accelerated worldwide
  Construction                                                  transmission of
   materials                                                     communicable diseases.”
  Mobility
  ICT                                                           The challenges
  Public safety and                                              Ageing
   security                                                       Diagnostics
                                                                  Hygiene and infection
                                                                  Materials and prosthetics
                                                                  Drugs and therapies
                                                                  Personalised medicine

                                                Back to Challenges
Priority areas
 Lifestyle and recreation                                      Raw materials and feedstocks

 “Providing a sustainable route for people to live richer      “Creating and sustaining a supply of sustainable
 and more varied lives.                                        feedstocks, by designing processes and products that
                                                               preserve resources.
 Lifestyle and recreation contribute to quality of life
 and bring a sense of wellbeing to individuals and             In the developed world we live in a time of
 communities. The latest advances in items we                  unprecedented convenience and mass affluence.
 purchase, promote convenience and perceptions of              However, this comfortable lifestyle comes at a cost
 well being.                                                   with material demands currently at an all time high.
 One of the key issue we face is to reconcile the need         At the same time, the global population and affluence
 to reduce the levels of energy and environmental              is still increasing and with this, further demand for
 resources that we consume, while at the same time             more consumer goods. For the whole world to share
 maintaining and improving quality of life for all.”           the living standards currently enjoyed in the UK, the
                                                               resources of three planet Earths would be required.
 The challenges                                                For a more equitable world, it is clear we all must do
  Creative industries                                         more with less material resource.”
  Household
  Sporting technology                                         The challenges
  Advanced and sustainable                                     Sustainable product design
   electronics                                                  Conservation of scarce
  Textiles                                                       natural resources
                                                                Conversion of biomass
                                                                Recovered feedstocks

                                              Back to Challenges
Priority areas
 Water and air                                                   Underpinning science
 “Ensuring the sustainable management of water and               “It is critical to advance fundamental knowledge in
 air quality, and addressing societal impact on water            order to have the breakthroughs needed to address
 resources (quality and availability).                           big global challenges. This will be achieved by
                                                                 maintaining and nurturing areas of underpinning
 Water and air are essential constituents of life.               science.
 Sustainably providing enough clean safe water is a
 major global challenge. Estimates predict that by               The areas below provide an indication of the critical
 2025 more than half of the world population will                role that chemical sciences play in partnership with
 potentially be facing some level of water-based                 other disciplines.”
 vulnerability. These challenges are exacerbated in the
 face of an increasing population, climate change and               Analytical science
 man-made pollution.”
                                                                    Catalysis
 The challenges
 • Drinking water quality                                           Chemical biology
 • Water demand
 • Wastewater                                                       Computation chemistry
 • Contaminants
 • Air quality and climate                                          Materials chemistry

                                                                    Supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience

                                                                    Synthesis

                                            Back to Challenges
Underpinning science and fundamental ideas

Underpinning science                                            Fundamental ideas

   Analytical science                                          All these areas of chemical sciences depend on
   Catalysis                                                   understanding and applying chemical concepts and
   Chemical biology                                            models about
   Computation chemistry
   Materials chemistry                                             the nature of matter
   Supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience                        the nature of physical and chemical changes.
   Synthesis

            Requiring a fundamental understanding, for example, of

              atomic structure                    state of matter                     direction of change

              chemical bonding                   changes of state                    dynamic equilibrium

             molecular structure               chemical reactions                       rate of change

             electrolyte solutions              enthalpy changes                       electrochemistry
Active challenges
The RSC identified ten challenges to actively promote in areas where progress matters most. These will change over
time. In 2011 they were:

 Agricultural productivity                             Drugs and therapies
 Significantly and sustainably increase agricultural   Harnessing and enhancing basic sciences to help transform the
 productivity to provide food, feed, fibre and fuel.   entire drug discovery, development and healthcare landscape.

 Conservation of scarce natural resources              Energy conversion and storage
 Developing alternative materials and new              Improve the performance of energy conversion and storage
 recovery processes for valuable components            technologies, such as batteries, and develop sustainable
 which cannot be replaced.                             transport systems.

 Conversion of biomass feedstocks                      Nuclear energy
 Developing biomass conversion technology to           Ensure safe and efficient harnessing of nuclear energy, through
 sustainably produce renewable fuels and               the development of fission and investigation into fusion
 chemicals.                                            technologies.

 Diagnostics                                           Solar energy
 Advancing to earlier diagnosis and improved           Develop existing technologies into more cost efficient processes
 methods of monitoring disease.                        and develop the next generation of solar cells to realise the
                                                       potential of solar energy.
 Drinking water quality
 Making it a priority for everybody to get access to   Sustainable product design
 clean drinking water.                                 Reducing waste by considering the entire lifecycle during design
                                                       and increasing downstream processing and re-use.
Using the chemical sciences to take up the challenges

   Challenging Plants        Challenging Medicine
Active challenge: Agricultural productivity
 Challenge: “A rapidly increasing global demand for              There are six categories of agricultural productivity
 food means we have no alternative but to significantly
 and sustainably increase agricultural productivity to           Effective farming
 provide food, feed, fibre and fuel.”                            Minimising inputs and maximising outputs through
                                                                 agronomic practice.

                                                                 Livestock and aquaculture
 “Food production will need to double by 2050 to meet            Technologies are needed to counter the significant
 the UN Millennium Development goals on hunger.                  environmental impact and waste associated with
 The World Bank estimates that cereal production                 rearing livestock.
 needs to increase by 50 per cent and meat
 production by 80 per cent between 2000 and 2030 to              Pest control
 meet demand. Furthermore, it estimates that by 2025             The development of new crop protection strategies is
 one hectare of land will need to feed five people               essential.
 whereas in 1960 one hectare was required to feed
 only two people. This needs to be achieved in a world           Plant science
 where suitable agricultural land is limited and climate         Improving the efficiency of nutrient uptake and
 change is predicted to have an adverse impact on                utilisation in plants is a major challenge.
 food production.                                                Soil science
 To meet growing demand for food in the future,                  Understanding soil structure and science is important
 existing and new technologies, provided by the                  to ensure high productivity.
 chemical sciences, must be applied across the entire
 food supply chain.”                                             Water
                                                                 Maintaining an adequate, quality water supply is
                                                                 essential for agricultural productivity.

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Conservation of scarce resources
 Challenge: “Raw material and feedstock resources                  Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 for both existing industries and future applications are
 increasingly scarce. We need to develop a range of                “Recovery of metals
 alternative materials and along with new processes                 Methods to recover metals from 'e-waste‘.
 for recovering valuable components.”                               Extract metals from contaminated land/landfills.

                                                                   Substitute key materials
                                                                    Select the most effective metal in high volume
 “Mineral commodities are essential to our way our                    applications.
 life. For example, the average car contains over 30                Improve fertiliser management of N and P.
 mineral components, including iron, steel, aluminium,              Improve battery design and reduce dependence on
 carbon, silicon and zinc. It is difficult to estimate the            finite metal resources - e.g. lithium.
 amounts in extractable reserves or to predict global
 demand for specific elements as technologies                      Reduce material intensity
 change. In modern technologies many of the                         Apply nanoscience to increase activity per unit mass.
 elements are used in small amounts and often                       Reduce raw material - i.e. thrifting”.
 dispersed into the environment at end of use, making
 them difficult to recover and recycle.

 The chemical sciences must apply the principles of
 sustainable design to this issue, and drive
 innovations to reduce, replace, and recycle

                                             Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Conversion of biomass feedstocks
 Challenge: “Biomass feedstocks for producing                    Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 chemicals and fuels are becoming more commercially
 viable. In the future, integrated bio-refineries using          “Develop bioprocessing science for producing chemicals
 more than one feedstock will yield energy, fuel and a            Methods for generating homogeneous feedstocks.
 range of chemicals with no waste being produced.”                Improve biocatalytic process design.
                                                                  Develop fermentation science to increase the variety
                                                                    and yield of products.
                                                                  Metabolic engineering for improved biomass feedstock
 “In the future, biomass will play an increased role as
 a source of fuel and chemicals. Conversion methods              New separation technologies
 are making it possible to convert feedstocks,                    Membranes and sorbent extraction of valuable
 including agricultural, forestry and municipal wastes,             components from biological media.
 into a range of valuable products. Establishing these            Pre-treatment methods for biomass component
 processes will enable production of new sustainable                separation.
 fuels and building blocks for the chemicals of the              Novel catalysts and biocatalysts for processing biomass
 future.                                                          New techniques for lignin and lignocellulose
 For bio-based renewable chemicals to compete with                Microbial genomics to produce improved micro-
 fossil-fuel based feedstocks there are several key
                                                                  Pyrolysis and gasification techniques for pre-treatment
 areas of technology that must be developed and
                                                                    and densification of biomass.
 offering huge potential for the chemical sciences.”              Catalysts for upgrading pyrolysis oil.
                                                                  Technologies to exploit biomethane from waste.
                                                                 Convert platform chemicals to high value products
                                                                  Oxygen and poison tolerant catalysts and enzymes.
                                                                  New synthetic approaches to adapt to oxygen-rich,
                                                                    functional starting feedstocks.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Diagnostics
 Challenge: “Recognising disease symptoms and                    Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 progress of how a disease develops is vital for effective
 treatment. We need to advance to earlier diagnosis and               “Energy efficient point of use purification such as using
 improved methods of monitoring disease.”                              disinfection processes and novel membrane

                                                                      Develop portable technologies for analysing and
 “Improved diagnosis is required in the developed and
                                                                       treating contaminated groundwater that are effective
 developing world. Fast and accurate diagnosis benefits                and appropriate for use by local populations - i.e. for
 individual patients and ensures efficient use of                      testing arsenic contaminated groundwater.
                                                                      Develop new instruments, sensors and analytical
 Screening and early detection of many cancers can                     approaches and techniques to ensure consistent and
 reduce mortality, but in the UK less than half of cancer              comparable measurement globally. For example,
 cases are diagnosed at a stage when it can be treated                 ongoing development of sensors for real time water
 successfully.                                                         quality monitoring in distribution systems.
 Diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria place a huge
                                                                      Develop energy efficient desalination technology.”
 burden on developing countries. To overcome this, better
 systems are required that can be used in resource-
 limited settings to detect diseases as early as possible
 and to monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

 Technology breakthroughs in detection could ultimately
 lead to information-rich point-of-care diagnostics. This
 would mean more patients could be diagnosed and
 treated without expensive and stressful hospitalisation.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Drinking water quality
 Challenge: “Poor quality drinking water damages                  Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 human health. Clean, accessible drinking water for all is
 a priority.”                                                          “Develop sensitive detection techniques for non-
                                                                        invasive diagnosis.

                                                                       Develop cost effective information-rich point-of-care
 “Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
                                                                        diagnostic devices.
 varies dramatically with geography and many regions
 already face severe scarcity. The lack of safe water                  Develop cost effective diagnostics for regular health
 impacts dramatically on lives. The WHO estimates 1.4                   checks and predicting susceptibility.
 million children's lives could be saved each year if they
 had access to clean water. Action is needed now to                    Identify relevant biomarkers and sensitive analytical
 overcome these problems.                                               tools for early diagnostics.

 Water treatment must be made more energy efficient to                 Understand the chemistry of disease onset and
 support safe exploitation of poor quality water resources.             progression Research to enable the continuity of drug
                                                                        treatment over disease life cycles.
 The chemical sciences have a dual role to play in
                                                                       Focus treatment on targeted genotype rather than
 treating water, by making it potable and also by
                                                                        mass phenotype Increase the focus on chemical
 removing contaminants from waste streams.”                             genetics.

                                                                       Produce combined diagnostic and therapeutic devices,
                                                                        which detect infection and respond to attack.”

                                            Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Drugs and therapies
 Challenge: “Basic sciences need to be harnessed and           Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 enhanced to help transform the entire drug discovery,
 development and healthcare landscape so new                      “Chemical tools for enhancing clinical studies.
 therapies can be delivered more efficiently and                  Design and synthesise small molecules that attenuate
 effectively for the world.”                                       large molecule interactions.
                                                                  Understand the chemical basis of toxicology and hence
                                                                   derive 'Lipinski-like' guidelines for toxicology.
 “Chronic diseases caused 35 million deaths globally in           Integrate chemistry with biological entities for improved
                                                                   drug delivery and targeting (next generation biologics).
 2005. Developing drugs and therapies that can target
                                                                  Apply systems biology understanding for identifying new
 these diseases has the potential to save a huge number
                                                                   biological targets.
 of lives around the world.                                       Understand communication within and between cells and
                                                                   the effects of external factors in vivo to combat disease
 The chemical sciences have a vital role in transforming           progression.
 the entire drug discovery, development and healthcare            Monitor the effectiveness of a therapy to improve
 landscape. In order to deliver new therapies more                 compliance.
 efficiently and effectively, a number of breakthroughs are       Improve drug delivery systems through smart devices
 required across the chemical sciences.                            and/or targeted and non-invasive solutions.
                                                                  Target particular disease cells through understanding drug
 Assessing the effectiveness and safety of drugs is an             absorption parameters within the body.
                                                                  Avoid adverse side effects through better understanding of
 essential component of the drug discovery and
                                                                   the interaction between components of cocktails of drugs.
 development process. Increased understanding of the
                                                                  Develop model systems to improve understanding of
 chemical basis of toxicology will improve the prediction          extremely complex biological systems and of how
 of potentially harmful effects. Monitoring the                    interventions work in living systems over time.
 effectiveness of a therapy could improve compliance and          Improve knowledge of the chemistry of living organisms
 in turn the efficacy. These advances must be linked to            including structural biology to ensure drug safety and
 the development of improved drug delivery systems.”               effectiveness.
                                                                  Develop toxicogenomics to test drugs at a cellular and
                                                                   molecular level.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Energy conversion and storage
 Challenge: “The performance of energy conversion and          Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 storage technologies (fuel cells, batteries, electrolysis
 and supercapacitors) needs to be improved to enable              “Reduce production and material costs.
 better use of intermittent renewable electricity sources         Use self assembly methods.
 and the development/deployment of sustainable                    Replace expensive materials.
                                                                  Increase calendar and cycle lives, recyclability and
                                                                  Improve modelling of thermodynamics and kinetics.
                                                                  Improve power density.
 “If society does not change from current methods of              Improve energy density.
 fuelling road transport, the associated carbon dioxide           Advance the fundamental science and understanding of
 emissions are set to double by 2050 from the level in             surface chemistry.
 2000.                                                            Replace strategic materials to ensure security of supply -
                                                                   i.e. platinum.
 It is essential to invest in renewable technology for            Develop enzymatic synthesis of nanomaterials.
 electricity generation and transport decarbonisation. The        Improve safety of devices - i.e. problems associated with
 realisation of both aims relies on developing energy              overheating.
                                                                  Decrease the cycle time of batteries - i.e. charging time
 storage devices that balance intermittent supply with
                                                                   needs to be reduced.
 consumer demand.
                                                                  Develop material recycling strategies.”

 Developments must be coupled with advances in the
 fundamental science of surface chemistry,
 electrochemistry and the improved modelling of
 thermodynamics and kinetics.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Nuclear energy
 Challenge: “Our high level of industrial and domestic         Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 waste could be resolved with increased downstream
 processing and re-use. To preserve resources, our initial     “Research methods for the efficient and safe utilisation of
 design decisions should take more account of the entire       nuclear fission
 life-cycle.”                                                   Advance the understanding of the physico-chemical
                                                                  effects of radiation on material fatigue, stresses and
                                                                  corrosion in nuclear power stations.
                                                                Improve methods for spent fuel processing including
 “The environmental impact of a product is determined             developing advanced separation technologies (allowing
 largely at the design stage. Mistakes made here can              control of chemical selectivity).
 embed unsustainable practice for the lifetime of the           Design and demonstrate the new generation of advanced
 product. Life-cycle thinking needs to be developed and           reactors including GEN IV based fuel cycles using
 applied across entire supply chains. By understanding            actinide-based fuels.
 where the highest environmental impacts are incurred,          Study the nuclear and chemical properties of the actinide
 changes can easily be made at this stage to reduce               and lanthanide elements.
 them.”                                                         Improve understanding of radiation effects on polymers,
                                                                  rubbers and ion exchange material.

                                                               Nuclear fusion
                                                                Develop high performance structural materials capable of
                                                                  withstanding extreme operating conditions.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Solar energy
 Challenge: “In order to realise the                Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 potential of solar energy, existing
 technologies must become more cost                 “Improvements to the design of current 'first generation' photovoltaic cells
 efficient while future generations must be          Develop lower energy, higher yield and lower cost routes to silicon refining.
 developed for wider application.”                   Develop a lower CO2-emission process to the carbo-thermic reduction of
                                                     Develop more efficient or environmentally benign chemical etching
                                                        processes for silicon wafer processing.
 “The sun provides the Earth with more               Base-metal solutions to replace silver printed metallisation used most
 energy in an hour than the global fossil               current first-generation devices.
 energy consumption in a year.                      Improvements to 'second generation' thin-film photovoltaics
 Harnessing the free energy of the sun               Improve the reaction yield for silane reduction to amorphous silicon films.
 could provide a clean and secure supply             Research alternative materials and environmentally sound recovery
 of electricity, heat and fuels. Developing             processes for cadmium-containing thin films on glass.
 scalable, efficient and low-intensity-              Research sustainable alternatives to indium.
 tolerant solar energy harvesting systems            Develop processes to improved deposition of transparent conducting film
 represents one of the greatest scientific              on glass.
                                                    Develop third-generation photovoltaic materials based on molecular, polymeric
 challenges today.
                                                    and nano-phase materials for significantly more efficient and stable devices,
                                                    suitable for continuous deposition on flexible substrates.
 There are a variety of technologies that           Develop high efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems
 have been developed to take advantage              Improve concentrated solar power (CSP) plants used to produce electricity or
 of solar energy. Developing these existing         hydrogen.
 technologies, and specifically the next            Research into producing 'Solar fuels‘
 generation of solar cells, is vital to              Improve photo-electrochemical cells to generate hydrogen from water.
 realising the potential of solar energy.”           Develop light harvesting, charge separation and catalyst technology in
                                                        order to mimic photosynthesis to generate hydrogen or carbohydrates.
                                                     Improve photobioreactors and photosynthetic organisms (algae and
                                                        cyanobacteria) for generating hydrogen or for processing to biofuels.”

                                              Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Sustainable product design
 Challenge: “Our high level of industrial and domestic         Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences
 waste could be resolved with increased downstream
 processing and re-use. To preserve resources, our initial     “Wider role of chemistry in product design for 4Rs (reduction,
 design decisions should take more account of the entire       remanufacture, reuse, recycle)
 life-cycle.”                                                  • Technology for designing biodegradability into finished
                                                               • Methods for tagging of polymers to aid recycling.
                                                               • Wider training of chemists in sustainable design.
 “The environmental impact of a product is determined          • New composites that are readily recyclable.
 largely at the design stage. Mistakes made here can           • Develop and apply smart coatings.
 embed unsustainable practice for the lifetime of the          • Develop improved recovery processes.
 product. Life-cycle thinking needs to be developed and
 applied across entire supply chains. By understanding         Manufacturing process intensification and optimisation
 where the highest environmental impacts are incurred,         • Atom efficiency.
 changes can easily be made at this stage to reduce            • Green chemistry and chemical engineering.
 them.”                                                        • Process modelling, analytics and control.

                                                               Improve life cycle assessment (LCA) tools and metrics
                                                               • Clear standards for LCA methods and data gathering.
                                                               • Methods to assess recycled materials.
                                                               • Tools to aid substitution of toxic substances.

                                                               Improve the understanding of ecotoxocity
                                                               • Better understand structure-property relationships.”

                                           Back to Active challenges
Active challenge: Agricultural productivity – six categories
Effective farming                          Livestock and aquaculture                                Pest control

Challenge: “Minimising inputs and          Challenge: “Optimised feed conversion and carcass        Challenge: “Up to 40 per cent of agricultural
maximising outputs through                 composition.”                                            productivity would be lost without effective use of
agronomic practice.”                                                                                crop protection chemicals. Agriculture is facing
                                           “In addition to crops, global livestock production       emerging and resistant strains of pests. The
“Through widespread sharing and            faces enormous short-term challenges. Total world        development of new crop protection strategies is
adoption of best agronomic practices,      global meat consumption rose from 139 million            essential.”
agricultural productivity will increase,   tonnes in 1983 to 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001
while minimising inputs. The               and is predicted to rise to over 300 million tonnes by   “Research needs to be done into new high-
implementation of existing and new         2020. Technologies are needed to counter the             potency, targeted agrochemicals. It is vital that
technologies will result in increased      significant environmental impact and waste               they are safe to use, overcome resistant pests
precision at the field level giving the    associated with rearing livestock.                       and are environmentally benign.
farmer greater control in maintaining      Most wild fisheries are at or near their maximum         Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences:
the needs of the land.                     sustainable exploitation level. The inevitable growth    • New high-potency, more targeted
                                           of aquaculture will involve further intensification,         agrochemicals with new modes of action.
Potential opportunities for the            therefore measures need to be taken to ensure this           These must be safe to use, overcome
chemical sciences                          is done in the most effective way possible.                  resistant pests and environmentally benign.
• Develop rapid in situ biosensor          Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences        • Formulation technology for new mixtures of
    systems that can monitor soil          • Develop new vaccines and veterinary medicines              existing actives, and to ensure a consistent
    quality, crop condition and water           to treat the diseases (old/new/emerging) of             effective dose is delivered at the right time
    availability to pinpoint problems.          livestock and farmed fish.                              and in the right quantity.
• Analyse climate change                   • Aquaculture production for food and industrial         • Develop better pest control strategies,
    parameters in order to be able to           use (including algae).                                  including using pheromones,
    predict changing conditions for        • Understand feed in animals, via nutrigenomics              semiochemicals and allelochemicals, as well
    agronomy.                                   and bioavailability of nutrients.                       as GM and pesticides.
• Precision agriculture at the field       • Formulation engineering for delivery and minor         • Pesticides tailored to the challenges of
    level.                                      component release to reduce waste.                      specific plant growth conditions - eg
• Engineering tools for on farm            • Genetic engineering.                                       hydroponics.
    practices - e.g. grain drying, seed    • Genetic analysis for conventional breeding -           • Reduce chemical crop protection strategies
    treatment and crop handling.”               Qualitative Trait Loci (QTL).”                          through GM crops.”

                                            Back to Agricultural productivity
Active challenge: Agricultural productivity – six categories
Plant science                                                  Soil science                                    Water

Challenge: “Increasing yield and controlling secondary         Challenge: “Understanding the structural,       Challenge: “Coping with
metabolism by better understanding plant science.”             chemical and microbiological composition of     extremes of water quality and
                                                               soil and its interactions with plants and the   availability for agriculture.”
“Improving the efficiency of nutrient uptake and utilisation   environment.”
in plants is a major challenge in agricultural productivity.                                                   “Maintaining an adequate,
This must begin with improving the understanding of the        “Understanding soil structure and science is    quality water supply is essential
roles and cycles of nutrients to help optimise their           important to ensure high productivity. By       for agricultural productivity.
sequestration.                                                 understanding the complex macro- and            Strategies for conserving water
A greater understanding of plant science could be              micro-structural composition of soil and its    supplies include using 'grey
exploited through biotechnology to generate, crops with        interactions with plant roots and the           water' of sufficient quality and
improved properties.                                           environment, it should be easier to maintain    more targeted water irrigation
                                                               and increase productivity.                      systems, such as through drip
Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences:                                                             delivery (more 'crop per drop').
• Understand and exploit biochemical plant signals for         Potential opportunities for the chemical
    developing new crop defence technologies.                  sciences:                                       Potential opportunities for the
• Improve the understanding of carbon, nitrogen,               • Develop fertiliser formulations able to       chemical sciences
    phosphorus and sulfur cycling to help optimise                 improve the retention of nitrogen in soil   • Use grey water in
    carbon and nitrogen sequestration and benefit plant            and uptake into plants.                         agriculture.
    nutrition.                                                 • Optimise farming practices by                 • Targeted use of water in
• Understand plant growth regulators.                              understanding the biochemistry of soil          agriculture (drip delivery).”
• Develop secondary metabolites for food and                       ecosystems, for example, the mobility of
    industrial use.                                                chemicals within soil.
• Understand the impact of nutrients at the macro and          • Improve the understanding of methane
    micro level.                                                   oxidation by bacteria in soil to help in
• Exploit the outputs of this understanding using                  developing methane-fixing technologies.
    biotechnology.                                             • Understand soil structure - mechanical
• Nitrogen and water usage efficiency - e.g. drought               properties of soils and nutrient flow.
    resistant crops for better water management.               • Low energy synthesis of nitrogen and
• Better yields of components for biofuels and                     phosphorus-containing fertilisers.”
    feedstocks through the use of modern

                                               Back to Agricultural productivity

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